Monday, November 12, 2018

Meet Rachel Jasiczek

Associate Professor of English

School of Humanities & Social Science

Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia and loved what the community offered: great schools, sports programs, and lots of family-friendly activities. I played basketball in the community rec league, for my middle school and high school teams, and also for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Girls Basketball League. My younger sister and I made many good friends through those events, and those friendships continue today.

You are relatively new to Reynolds. Tell us about your background and what brought you to Reynolds?
I earned my B.A. and M.A. degrees in English at Virginia Tech (Go, Hokies!) and my Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Professional Communication from New Mexico State University. In New Mexico, I developed a passion for working with community college students, and that led me to Connecticut where I was hired full-time at Norwalk Community College. At NCC, I served as writing program coordinator, and in that role I was able to develop curriculum for our writing courses, as well as mentor adjunct faculty and oversee our writing placement process. While I loved the work I was doing, I missed my family so much (who all live in the Richmond and Virginia Beach area). My husband and I knew we wanted to make Virginia our home again. I was incredibly excited when I saw the job posted at Reynolds; my sister, who teaches clinical microbiology in the evenings here at Reynolds, had told me how wonderful the students and faculty are, and I knew I wanted to make Reynolds my forever academic home!

When did you discover your love of English?
I discovered my passion for writing when I took a course in rhetoric during my junior year at Virginia Tech. My professor taught me how words can change lives, how words can be used to advocate for others, and how words can make truly significant differences in the world. I started to think of writing as a puzzle, something that has pieces that I must fit together perfectly in order to effectively communicate a message. I enjoyed taking on various writing challenges, one of which was to write a grant for a non-profit organization that trained service dogs for people with physical limitations. When I realized how my words could help improve other people’s lives, I knew I had found a way to make my love of English my purpose in life, and that led me to teach. 

What do you like most about being here? 
Everything! My colleagues have supported me, my students are engaged, and I am close to my family. I have also noticed just how hard every person at this college works to give students what they need to succeed. It’s easy to be inspired in this environment. 

What has been a challenge for you?
My biggest challenge so far is teaching everyone how to pronounce my last name . . . I’m kidding! But in case you’re wondering, it is pronounced Yah-She-Check. Otherwise, my biggest challenge is simply adapting to a new place, with new courses, and new everything. However, I am enjoying the challenge and am learning all along the way. 

What is your favorite book, and why?
This is the hardest question for an English major to answer. There are just too many good books! I am a big fan of historical fiction and also southern lit. Two books I will always have nearby are The Awakening by Kate Chopin and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I love that these books have strong female characters who challenge social definitions of femininity. 

What activities do you enjoy when not being an English Professor?
When I am not teaching, you’ll find me reading good books (lots of books!), traveling, and playing beach volleyball. I have been to 16 different countries and have plans to visit more next year. During the summers, Mikey (my husband) and I play in a competitive beach volleyball league and have so much fun. Almost anything I can do outside, I will enjoy.

Everyone who does a Profile gets the “Lottery Question.” If you won $900 million, what would you do with the money?
I would definitely start a scholarship in my grandparents’ names to honor their memory and help deserving students get access to a college education. For myself, I would travel, travel, and travel some more. There are so many beautiful places I want to see, and I’d bring my entire family along for the journey. We love big family vacations and spend a lot of time laughing when we are together.